Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: No Tea

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In case you haven’t heard, we’re running a contest on Hackaday Projects for the best Sci-Fi build. We’re a little under two weeks until the deadline for the contest and so far there are a lot of great entries (and lots of great prizes still up for grabs).

If there’s one thing this contest has taught us, it’s that Hackaday readers have impeccable taste in their choices of books, movies, TV shows, and video games. We were surprised at how many entries there are for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a series not generally known for having cool gadgets such as giant mechs, lightsabers, and other impressively awesome stuff. Here’s a roundup of the current HHGTTG submissions for the Sci-Fi contest:

The doors in Hitchhiker’s Guide are insufferable self-contented sentient portals programmed by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to love their simple lives. Upon everyone opening or closing one of these doors, they thank the person for validating their existence.

The door in [Jarrett]‘s hackerspace wouldn’t stay closed, so what better way to fix the door than with a robotic door greeter? Actually, it’s just a weight tied to a pulley that keeps the door closed with a little bit of circuitry that plays an .mp3 file when the door moves. Still, self-contented doors. [Goug] is also making one of these self-satisfied doors, but there’s not much in the way of progress.

The Happy Vertical People Transporter is HHGTTG’s answer to the common elevator. Like doors, they’re also sentient, but also have ‘defocused temporal perception’ to arrive at a floor before a passenger even realizes they need a lift. [DigiGram] and [Lolla] are working on one of these sentient elevators using a webcam, OpenCV, and some AVR-based electronics.

The Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses allow the user to adapt to danger by blacking out a the first signs of peril. [colabot] and [minimum effective dose] realized you can just buy glasses that can be blacked out electronically in the form of active shutter glasses for a 3D TV. With a few peril sensors, they’re working on finishing up their peril sensitive sunglasses.

Remember, the Hackaday Projects Sci-Fi contest doesn’t end until April 29th. That leaves you plenty of time to enter your own build. May we suggest a Brownian motion simulation beverage?

 

Sniffing Vending Machine Buses

Sniffing the Multidrop Bus

 

We’ve talked about a variety of protocols and how to deal with them in the past. Today, [Dan] is working on sniffing vending machine Multidrop Bus. The Multidrop Bus (MDB) protocol is a standard used in vending machines to connect devices such as currency collectors to the host controller.

To connect to the bus, interface hardware is required. [Dan] worked out compliant hardware and connected it to an Arduino. With the device on the bus, [Dan] got to work on an Arduino sketch to parse the MDB data into a human-readable format. With that working, the bus can easily be sniffed over the Arduino’s serial console.

This is just the start of a more involved project. Since this protocol is used to communicate with a vending machine’s currency collector or card reader, being able to communicate it would allow him to implement his own payment methods. The plan is to augment the vending machine he operates at Vancouver Hack Space to accept Bitcoin. We’re looking forward to seeing that project unfold.

Raspberry Pi Remote Audio Link

Hardware for remote audio link

 

In broadcast, lots of people are still using dedicated analog lines to connect remote sites. These operate like old telephone systems: you call up the operator and request to be patched through to a specific site. They’re also rather expensive.

For a hospital radio station, [Marc] wanted to replace the old system with something less costly. The result is his Raspberry Pi STL in a Box. Inside the box is a Raspberry Pi, PiFace display, a pair of meters, and some analog hardware for the audio.

On the software side, the system uses LiquidSoap to manage the stream. LiquidSoap uses a language to configure streams, and [Marc] has a write-up on how to configure LiquidSoap for this application. On the hardware side, SSM2142 ICs convert the signal from single-ended to balanced. The meters use the LM3915 bar drivers to control the meters.

The Python script that controls the box is provided, and could be helpful for anyone needing to build their own low-cost audio link.

 

Interactive Gloves Turn Gestures into Music

Imogen Heap wearing her Mi.Mu gloves

[Imogen Heap] is a UK-based musician who is trying to change the way we think about making music. She’s been working on a pair of gloves called the Mi.Mu, and they’re getting close to production.

In the included interview she explains that while computers and technology have brought many new advances to music, twiddling dials and pushing random buttons “is not very exciting for me, or the audience”. With these gloves, the artist becomes one with the music and interaction.

The current iteration of gloves use flex sensors along each finger to determine the movement (along with motion sensors for other gestures). She’s been through many designs and hopes to integrate e-materials into the next — using the actual glove as the sensor (not physical flex sensors).

She’s been working with both developers and musicians mapping the various motions of the gloves to music which makes sense in an intuitive way, and it’s very unique to see in action.

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The Persistence of Jumping Rope

POV Jump Rope

[Antonio Ospite] recently took up jump rope to increase his cardio, and also being a hacker decided to have some extra fun with it. He’s created the JMP-Rope — the Programmable Jump Rope.

He’s using the same principle as a normal POV (Persistence of Vision) display, but with a cool twist. He’s managed to put the microcontroller (a Trinket) and battery into the handle of the jump rope. Using a slip ring system, the RGB signal gets passed to the rope, which contains the LEDs. It’s a pretty slick setup, and he’s written another post all about how he did the hardware.

To create the images for his JMP-Rope, he’s outlined the steps to a successful POV image on his blog. These include re-sizing the image to a circle (duh), reducing the color palette, and then performing pixel mapping using a discrete conversion (from polar to Cartesian coordinates). After that it’s just a matter of representing your new-found pixel map in a 1D animation, played column by column. [Antonio] stores these frames on the micro-controller as an RLE (run length encoded) indexed bitmap.

Stick around to see how he made it, and some other cool examples of what it can do!

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Interactive 3D Projection is Foggy At Best

fog proj

Have a projector and a smoke machine handy? You might want to give this fog projection thing a shot! It’s called the MisTable and it’s a three-dimensional playground for interactive manipulation of images.

It’s a project by Bristol Interaction and Graphics group of the University of Bristol, and it’s an interesting twist on 3D projection. They’ve created what they call the MisTable which features a smoke machine, “smoke screens”, and three projectors. What it results in is an interactive table for two people. The tabletop surface is a display, as is the see through fog in front of each person (the “fog screens”).

While it is fairly easy to understand and explain, there’s a handy diagram after the following break showing how the system works. Our question is, when are one of you guys or gals going to try making one?

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Using Non-Crappy Software With The Da Vinci Printer

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The Da Vinci printer from XYZprinting is turning out to be one of the best buys in the world of cheap, consumer printers. Sure, it uses chipped filament, but that’s an easy fix for anyone who knows what a .hex file is. And yes, the Da Vinci host software is a mess of proprietary garbage with limited functionality, but [Mark] has figured out a way around that.

When [Mark] received his Da Vinci, he immediately started snooping around inside the printer’s guts, like any good tinkerer should. He found an SD card holding all the sample prints that ship with the printer, all in a convenient Gcode format. Inside these sample .STL files were all the calls you would expect – setting the temperature, changing the layer height, and all the other good stuff you’d find in any other RepRap.

With a little bit of modification to .STL files generated by any slicing program, [Mark] isn’t limited any more by the terrible host software that ships with the Da Vinci. Combine this with the ability to reset the chip inside the filament cartridge, and [Mark] has a printer at least as functional as any open hardware model.

[Read more...]